SPARC port (was Re: Technical Board decisions)

Matt Zimmerman mdz at
Wed Feb 14 07:18:56 UTC 2007

On Wed, Feb 14, 2007 at 04:31:16AM +0000, Caroline Ford wrote:
> SPARC is ambiguous. I'm not sure what you mean by a SPARC10 - if you 
> mean SPARCstation 10 then we don't have support from those (10 years 
> old+ 32bit machines). Debian does in its SPARC port, as does *BSD.
> What Ubuntu calls SPARC everyone else seems to call SPARC64.

More clearly stated, our SPARC port only officially supports UltraSPARC and
Niagara.  It is a combination of SPARC and SPARC64 (64-bit kernel with
mostly 32-bit userland).

Our userland could probably run on older SPARCs, but would require a
different kernel.  Maintaining an additional kernel is not worth the
overhead to support these older platforms; installing Linux on them is fun,
but not very useful.

> Our documentation is confused (and bug reported..)

I'm not sure where you filed this or which documentation you mean, but in
any case the documentation team would be a better place to discuss it:
ubuntu-doc at

> While I'm having a SPARC whinge - we need to ship an smp kernel - don't 
> expect people to pay $$ for a server box and either only run one cpu or 
> compile the kernel. Compiling a kernel is *very* not ubuntu in my eyes.

Both 6.06 LTS and 6.10 do provide a SPARC SMP kernel.

> We need to ship a SPARC cd with X on. Many of the supported machines are 
> workstations not servers. Leaving the user with the command line is A 
> Bad Thing too.

There are good reasons why SPARC is a "server-only" port for Ubuntu.  The
desktop stack is not well supported on this platform, and furthermore very
little is available in the way of testing.  There's much more to providing
an ISO than creating the image; each of these need to be properly tested and
certified before being released, and our resources are better spent
elsewhere than on GNOME and KDE for SPARC.

 - mdz

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